Unhealthy air quality in the Finger Lakes Thursday

finger lakes weather forecast thursday june 29 2023 unhealthy air quality wildfire smoke
Air quality has declined across the Finger Lakes into the Unhealthy category as of Thursday morning. Smoke is expected to remain in place through Friday. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil, taken in Groton]

Air Quality Alert

A plume of wildfire smoke drifted overhead into the Finger Lakes overnight, leading to declining air quality throughout the region early Thursday morning.

Almost all air quality sensors are starting the day in the Red—Unhealthy zone with Air Quality Index values between 151-200. This will most likely be the case throughout the day, with little overall movement with the plume.

These levels of air quality are worse than what our region experienced yesterday and are considered unhealthy for everyone.

» View the latest air quality levels at https://fire.airnow.gov/

Besides the smoke, today will be a quiet day. The hazy skies will obscure a mix of sun and fair-weather clouds. No precipitation is expected.

Temperatures will rise into the mid and upper 70s. Without the smoke, it would likely be a couple degrees warmer. Dewpoints will be comfortable in the mid and upper 50s. Nighttime temperatures will drop into the 50s.

Winds aloft will turn more to the south and southwest tonight, but there is plenty of smoke throughout the Ohio River Valley that will be moved into our region on these winds. Smoke concentrations are not expected to change much Friday, and I would expect another day of potentially unhealthy air.

Temperatures will get a boost tomorrow with the southerly winds, though again, with the smoke, it will probably be a couple of degrees cooler than it would be otherwise. Look for highs in the low and mid 80s. Dewpoints will increase as well, reaching the 60s by the afternoon.

During the afternoon, some showers and thunderstorms will develop. The timing, coverage, and most likely location of these storms are still a bit uncertain. It will be a rare opportunity to observe whether the smoke in the atmosphere serves as an enhancement in rainfall rates or lightning rates due to the extra particulate matter.

Most of the showers and storms should dissipate shortly after sunset, but temperatures will remain warm and muggy through the night, with lows in the 60s.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thu jun 29 | thur, smoky skies some sun upper 70 | fri, scattered pm storms mid 80 | sat, showers and t-storms low 80 | sun, showers and t-storms low 80 | mon, showers and t-storms low 80 | tues, am showers low 80 | wed, sun and clouds mid 80
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Weather This Weekend and Next Week

It is too early to say for sure how the smoke will evolve for Saturday. Southerly winds will continue, which should eventually lead to improving conditions. The current smoke models only run out until 2 AM Friday night but do show vastly improving conditions upwind across the Ohio Valley, so there is hope for an improvement.

Additional showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop on Saturday, mostly in the afternoon. However, there is not much in the way of a trigger to get these storms going, so they may end up rather hit-or-miss.

There will be some wind energy in the atmosphere so that whatever storms form may develop into a cluster or two with a locally strong wind risk.

Temperatures Saturday should reach the low 80s with muggy dewpoints well into the 60s.

The chances for smoke should continue to decline as we head into Sunday, but the chances for scattered showers and storms will remain. Overall, Sunday looks less favorable for showers and storms than Saturday does, but at least a few should pop up. Between the two days this weekend, there will likely be some areas that miss out on all the rain.

Sunday will remain warm and muggy, with early morning and overnight temperatures sticking to the 60s and daytime highs into the 80s.

At some point Monday or Monday night, the chances for rain and thunderstorms should increase and be more widespread. There is a small chance that this could be delayed until early Tuesday as well. It is too uncertain to pinpoint more specifically at this time.

The unsettled weather will gradually pull away on Tuesday into Wednesday and Thursday. This will only cause temperatures to rise, with highs commonly reaching the mid 80s. Humidity levels will remain high as well, with dewpoints in the 60s throughout the week.

More unsettled weather looks possible towards the end of next week and the following weekend.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thu jun 29 | thur, smoky skies some sun upper 70 | fri, scattered pm storms mid 80 | sat, showers and t-storms low 80 | sun, showers and t-storms low 80 | mon, showers and t-storms low 80 | tues, am showers low 80 | wed, sun and clouds mid 80
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.

2 Responses

  1. Scott Sheavly

    Hello Drew,
    I love reading your forecasts and rely on them to guide my daily outside activities.

    Maybe you could clarify something about the haze. I have lived in the Finger Lakes for all of my 65 years and we’ve always had many hazy days throughout every summer. Until recently, like 3 weeks ago, when we actually smelled smoke, no one really discussed the haze and we went about our daily business.

    Presumably, the Finger Lakes region has been impacted by wildfires forever. Was the haze in the past caused by wildfires or was that haze caused by something else?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Scott. I have been pondering this very question, and unfortunately, I do not know that there is data to get a solid answer. I used to equate haze with heat and humidity… but have observed plenty of hot and humid days without haze… and plenty of hazy days without heat and humidity. I do not see any logical reason to think that at least some of the hazy days of yore were not caused by wildfire smoke, both from the western parts of the continent… and from fires in eastern Canada, like now.

      I highly suspect that we are hearing about this so much now because:
      1) satellite imagery technology lets us see these smoke plumes in far greater detail than ever before
      2) our hyper-connected, instant news, social media and hype-driven world greatly increases knowledge and awareness of anything slightly out of the ordinary
      3) We are especially primed to worry about this now after actually experiencing a hazardous situation on June 7th.

      I do know of another dramatic smoke event in September 1950 that had an oversized impact on our region. Look up “Black Sunday 1950” for more about that!